Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

January 9, 2014
4-day concert scheduled for Deseret Peak

Reba McEntire and other country music stars will perform July 17-20 

Reba McEntire, Toby Keith, Rascal Flatts, Brantley Gilbert, and Florida Georgia Line are coming to Tooele this summer.

Deseret Peak Complex will be the home to 40,000 country music fans for four days from July 17-20. The four-year old country music festival, Country Explosion, has leased Deseret Peak for the four-day event,

The Tooele County Commissioners approved a $60,000 lease agreement with Ghost Riders of the Purple Sage, the parent company of Country Explosion at their Jan. 7 commission meeting.

The agreement also calls for Country Explosion to get $400,000 of tourism tax dollars to market the event to attract people from outside Tooele County. Those dollars will come from the county’s Transient Room Tax fund.

“Country Explosion wants to make Tooele County their home,” said Tooele County Commissioner Shawn Milne. “The hope is that Country Explosion will become our signature event as a county.”

Country Explosion moved to Miller Motorsports Park in 2013 after spending its first two years in Vernal.

Drawing between 13,000 to 17,600 people per day to the Country Explosion at MMP, the event outgrew the facility, according to Jason Stark, owner of Stark Entertainment Group, the promoter of Country Explosion.

“Deseret Peak and its 220 acres is an ideal facility for us,” he said. “There is nothing else like it in Utah.  The facilities, the buildings and the setting are all perfect.”

Stark said that while last year’s Country Explosion attendance peaked at 17,600, he expects the crowd will double this year and is planning for a group as large as 37,000 to 46,000 per day.

Stark is marketing Country Explosion in surrounding states, including Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, California, and Washington. Last year people came from 27 different states, plus Canada, France and Mexico.

The lease agreement calls for Country Explosion to have full use of all property and facilities at Deseret Peak, including the pool. Country Explosion will be responsible for all manpower and equipment for the event.

“The pool is great,” said David Radcliffe, chief operating officer for Country Explosion. “Last year got very hot during the concert. We will be the only outdoor concert with a pool that I know of.”

While the Deseret Peak Aquatic Center will be open for concert goers during Country Explosion, the county is not ready to make an announcement regarding the pool for the general public for the 2014 summer season, Milne said.

The $60,000 flat fee for the lease protects the financial risk of the county, according to Milne.

“They pay us $60,000 out right,” he said. “The amount is not based on percentage or attendance.”
Half of the rental fee is due by Jan. 15 with the other half due no later than 60 days prior to the start of the event.

Country Explosion will need to provide documentation that the $400,000 they received from the Transient Room Tax fund was spent on marketing, according to the agreement.

TRT funds are collected from a tax on hotel, motel and restaurant customers. State code restricts the use of TRT funds to establishing and promoting recreation, tourism, film production, or conventions. TRT funds can not be used for general county operations.

The lease agreement also requires Country Explosion to pay a $10,000 security deposit that is refundable as long as it restores Deseret Peak to its original condition minus basic wear and tear within four days after the event. Country Explosion will be responsible for damages to the venue and facilities.

Country Explosion officials have established a local presence. They have rented office space for Radcliffe in the Chamber of Commerce building, and Radcliffe has moved to Tooele County.

“We want this to be Tooele County’s event,” he said. “We plan on using local vendors and hiring people from Tooele County as much as possible. We also need volunteers.”

Milne hopes the success of Country Explosion will help market Deseret Peak for other major events.

“This is the model of our new management plan for Deseret Peak,” he said. “Instead of managing and staffing events ourselves, we will lease the facility to other groups.”

Tickets and event details can be found at www.CountryExplosion.com.

Tim Gillie

Staff Writer at Tooele Transcript Bulletin
Tim covers education, Tooele City government, business, real estate, politics and the state Legislature. He became a journalist after a long career as an executive with the Boy Scouts of America. Tim is a native of Washington state and a graduate of Central Washington University.

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